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How Savvy Bosses Always Land the Perfect Employee

Attracting rockstar job candidates doesn’t have to break the bank.

Whether you're an entrepreneur running your own startup or the climbing the ladder in a larger organization, your success directly depends on the people you have working for you. If you want to be the best, you need your employees to be the best. And in a competitive business environment, it's not always easy to attract the best people.

Sure, you can throw a lot of money at a rising star in your field—after all, great talent usually comes at great cost—but that doesn't always work out in the long run. (See: your competitor who will simply offer an even fatter paycheck.) Instead, focus on these other ways of luring the finest workers to your squad. And if you're not doing the corporate hiring dance just yet, make sure you know how to pick out the best candidate from a hiring pool.

Offer Freedom

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"People have a deep-seeded desire and need to drive their own lives," says Eric Cacciatore, founder and host of the No. 1 restaurant podcast Restaurant Unstoppable.

So be more lenient from the outset regarding their hours. Based on your employees' needs, you might allow for later shift starts and departures. You may even allow your employee to trade working days. You should also consider letting them work from home.

Don't Sell Too Hard

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You want to sell your company in the best possible light, but a prospective employee will immediately sense it if you are trying a bit too hard to promote your company. "It's important to balance selling candidates with informing them of the perks as well as the realities of the top," says Alissa Parr, a senior consultant for employee screening firm Select International. "If you sell too hard without conveying the realities of the job, you may hire top talent, but some may also leave if they feel that their expectations were not met."

Just as in dating, looking desperate or eager to please is a big turnoff for a potential partner. And for more ways to ensure you're running a great business, here's how to make your team as thick as thieves.

Don't Post on Job Hunting Sites

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"The best way for organizations to recruit top talent is to actively recruit them rather than waiting for them to come," says Lori B. Rassas, author of Over the Hill But Not the Cliff: 5 Strategies for 50+ Job-Seekers to Push Past Ageism and Find a Job in the Loyalty-Free Workplace. She suggests that employers can achieve this by focusing on passive job seekers, rather than posting on job hunting sites.

As a recruiter, Rassas suggests that best proactive way to deal with the hiring is to discuss with individuals in your network who may know of any passive candidates which might not currently be searching for a job but would consider doing so if given the right opportunity. You could likewise go to conferences, discussing the same things with participants, and keeping your antennae out for potential candidates among the attendees or speakers there. Also, here are even more strategies to use to up your boss game.

Avoid Group Interviews

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"These make candidates feel like they are directly competing against the other applicants," says Lauren McAdams, career advisor and hiring manager at "This not only warps impressions, making it harder to find good candidates, but it's also a rather callous way of introducing your organization to your next wave of potential teammates."

More regrettably, group interviews rarely get the applicant's best performance, with individual candidates unlikely to truly express themselves, instead tending toward whatever the consensus opinion of the group may be. Both applicant and interviewer will come away from the interaction feeling like they didn't really connect with the other. Another thing to keep in mind during the interview process? Making sure you don't ask any of these questions.

Offer More Than Money

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"An excellent way to persuade a great candidate to work for you instead of the larger company down the street is to offer them more than a nice paycheck," agrees Sacha Ferrandi, founder and head principal of Source Capital Funding, Inc. "Offering more than money also shows the candidate that the company is a place to grow and develop their career, not just another stepping stone."

He gives the examples of mentorship opportunities that might be difficult to get elsewhere. The hiring manager should outline all that the candidate will learn, after getting some information about them to help make the case for how the organization can enable them to achieve their goals and how their goals can be accomplished within the organization. Maybe you could tell them you will offer more constructive feedback on their bad ideas.

Invest in Professional Development

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"If applicants know there's a good chance they'll raise their skill level at your company, you're more likely grab their attention," says Diane Domeyer, 25-year career expert and executive director of The Creative Group, pointing to her organization's recent survey of executives which bears this out.

To attract the most career-focused candidates, when you post an employment opportunity, emphasize how they can expand the career avenues available to them and develop professionally if they come to work for you. And speaking of career growth, here's how the smartest men get ahead at work.

Move Fast

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"In today's talent-short market, employers cannot afford to drag their feet during the hiring process," says Domeyer.

She points to research by Robert Half that demonstrates that about seven of every 10 candidates lose interest in the job if they don't hear back within 14 days after the interview. Delays offer time for applicants to respond to competitor's interest, to proceed with discussions with different recruiters, and to examine their offer with mentors and family. And most of all: no one likes bureaucracy. "Employers should take a hard look at the steps of their hiring process and the length of time each takes," says Domeyer. "Is there anything you can do to streamline things, like conducting video versus in-person or group versus one-on-one interviews?"

If applicable, make use of a virtual interview platform. Virtual interviews save time, free up budget, and minimize scheduling hassles. You may be able to move the hiring process along faster if you can double your daily productivity.

Keep it Simple

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"A process that takes too long, does not respect the time of the candidate, or doesn't recognize that hiring is a two-way process (the best candidates will be considering multiple companies), can really hinder your chances to getting the candidate you want," says Marsha Forde, director of human resources for career solutions platform Workopolis.

In case the applicants take time off to visit, do not forget to make the most productive use of the applicant's time with the line-up and in-person meetings. If possible, try to avoid multiple visits.

Use Your Current Employees

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"There is no better reference than a happy employee who can speak to their own experience to date and enthusiasm towards the future," says Jeff Nussbaum, CEO and founder of Recruit.

Give your employees light guidelines and urge them to share real stories on their social profiles. Use free platforms like LinkedIn and other platforms to create blog if you don't have one already.

"Your current employees have the potential to be your best ambassadors, so partner with them to show, not tell, what it's like to work at your company," says Leela Srinivasan, CMO of recruitment software firm Lever.

Do Your Research

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Do some digging to figure out just why the applicant is looking to a make career change. This will enable you to know what it is about your organization that will make the difference in their decision. "Each candidate has their own unique set of 'pushes' and 'pulls' that influences their decision to make a career change, and to where that next step may be," says Nussbaum.

If you can indicate how this new job addresses their specific wants and needs, you're far more likely to get the candidate jumping on board.

Culture First

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One of the best ways to close the deal with a candidate is to promote your company culture—but "culture" doesn't mean the fun activities around the office. "Investing in employee development and growth opportunities, offering flexibility and parental leave, and empowering individual employees to understand how their work fits in with the larger mission and purpose of the organization," says Kathryn Minshew founder and CEO of The Muse.

An incredible candidate (and potential employee) ought to be energized by what your company does, not what it offers. They should want to develop and propel their skills and profession within your business. A perfect worker gets up in the morning energized for the workday ahead—not the office table-tennis tournament or provided food for lunch.

A thriving company culture isn't only a way for you to find and attract top talent applicants, it's likewise the best approach for you to retain your incredible employees. Of course, some older businesses may find it difficult to transform their company culture overnight, but putting in the weeks, months, or years to make this shift will result in long-term recruitment benefits. For some insight on how to do this, here's what one leading C.E.O. has to say about building a healthy office culture.

Be Genuine

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One of the reasons applicants leave their new employment within 12 months is on account of the job's everyday demands failing to match their expectations. This problem can often be traced back to the job posting itself. Discuss with your managers and staff to know precisely what a "day at work" involves, and utilize this data to create an expected set of job description/responsibilities.

To boost and maintain candidate interest, work with your staffing partner to explicitly outline the job description. The key thing to avoid is exaggeration, or telling lies, in a desperate effort to close the deal. "If they accept the job and then discover any bait-and-switch tactics, not only will their tenure be short-lived, but they will also poison the well by sharing their story with current coworkers and future prospects," says Nussbaum.

Promote Your Purpose

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"Stop selling what you do to potential employees, but why you do it," says Restaurant Unstoppable's Cacciatore. "Create a purpose-driven organization with ideals and sell your ideas."

Like many things, starting with your business purpose and what you need to accomplish from it is the best place to start. In this way, for a job advert, you would normally plan to outline the role to attract response from important candidates, and it additionally acts as a source of reference point for a successful applicant for their obligations.

"Young people want to work for a purpose-driven organization," Cacciatore adds. "A paycheck is no longer enough to attract today's workforce. People today want to work for an organization that serve higher purposes."

This is an opportunity to "sell" your business, yet remember that you don't need someone to work for you just because they like your organization. For them to be productive and successful, they should be passionate about the job, too.

Use Social Media

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On your business Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram pages, share off-site team events, company parties, team recognition, in-office fun, awards, accolades or achievements, and so on. That will give the candidate you want to enlist a look into what it's like to work at your organization.

"On occasion we boost Facebook posts for $10.00 to get a reach of about 2,000 targeted individuals," says Lori Williams, a recruiting coordinator and career coach who runs Unstoppable Communications. "We get a lot of traction from those efforts. Social media really is the best way to target your audience and not have to utilize a large marketing budget."

Provide More Control

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"There isn't a one-size-fits-all perk you can use to entice top talent, so make it point during the recruiting process to open up the conversation about the type of work arrangement the candidate would most desire," says Maggie Mistal, career consultant and executive coach. "Trust him or her to get the work done and fully support them fully with the kind of workstyle that fits their needs."

For example, offering work-from-home opportunities could be profoundly appealing to the top talent you are trying to recruit—particularly if they live too far from your company location but still willing to work for your firm. As an additional advantage, you'll likely extend your number of top talent applicants since proximity to your workplaces will turn out to be less a major factor.

Don't Sugarcoat

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Don't paint an excessively pretty picture about the role just to get them in the door. Instead, be honest about your expectations, and lay out how you think the person can take ownership of the job once they come aboard. "I think too many recruiters/organizations aren't honest about what they know and don't know," says Mistal. "They feel pressured to come up with a job description for the role when a better approach would be honesty with the new hire that part of their job will be defining their new role."

Utilize Recruitment Marketing

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"Employee-authored blogs and videos that highlight your team and company, events and even paid advertising campaigns to leverage equality company content can be powerful engines for attracting talent who identify with your culture and mission," says Srinivasan. "Fire up an employee blog if you don't already have one," suggests she adds, pointing to their own company's own "Inside Lever" blog. "Take advantage of free platforms like LinkedIn and Medium to extend your blogging reach. Also, think about what content you can put 'out there' as an organization to showcase your culture. Video can be a highly memorable way to make a statement."

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Alex Daniel
A journalist based in Brooklyn, New York. Read more
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